Economic Insecurity Increases Physical Pain Feb 18, 2016 By Eileen ChouBidhan L. ParmarAdam D. Galinsky Economic Insecurity Increases Physical Pain The past decade has seen a rise in both economic insecurity and frequency of physical pain. The current research reveals a causal connection between these two growing and consequential social trends. In five studies, we found that economic insecurity produced physical pain and reduced pain tolerance. In a sixth study, with data from 33,720 geographically diverse households across the United States, economic insecurity predicted consumption of over-the-counter painkillers. The link between economic insecurity and physical pain emerged when people experienced the insecurity personally (unemployment), when they were in an insecure context (they were informed that their state had a relatively high level of unemployment), and when they contemplated past and future economic insecurity. Using both experimental-causal-chain and measurement-of-mediation approaches, we also established that the psychological experience of lacking control helped generate the causal link from economic insecurity to physical pain. Meta-analyses including all of our studies testing the link from economic insecurity to physical pain revealed that this link is reliable. Overall, the findings show that it physically hurts to be economically insecure. Psychological Science Areas of focus Economics Social Psychology Eileen Chou Chou’s research focuses on the organizational, social, and psychological forces that shape individual and group behavior in organizational settings. Read full bio Bidhan L. Parmar Adam D. Galinsky Related Content Eileen Chou The Goldilocks Contract: The Synergistic Benefits of Combining Structure and Autonomy for Persistence, Creativity, and Cooperation Research Contracts are commonly used to regulate a wide range of interactions and relationships. Yet relying on contracts as a mechanism of control often comes at a cost to motivation. Safety in Numbers: Why the Mere Physical Presence of Others Affects Risk‐taking Behaviors Research As social mammals, being in a group signals a state of relative security. Risk‐taking behavior in other social mammals formed the basis for our prediction that the mere physical presence of others, absent any social interaction, would create a psychological state of security that, in turn, would promote greater risk‐taking behavior.